Summer 76 | Early in Trip, Team Looks to Learn More About Smith

by Brian Seltzer Reporter

Zhaire Smith has been in the 76ers’ stead for less than a week, but already, the team has identified a few new things for the first-rounder to try out as he readies for his first professional season.

Take, for instance, this fourth sequence from Friday’s MGM Resorts Summer League opener, a 95-89 loss to the Boston Celtics.

In what was the set up for a game-tying basket, Smith, having previously been stationed in the weakside corner, gets the ball on a dribble hand-off from Isaiah Miles.

The Texas Tech product then uses the action to gain a head of steam before driving to the basket for a tough, successful score.

With Smith taking on a hybrid wing-shooting guard type role during summer league, the Sixers think that DHOs - a regular part of Brett Brown’s offense - could be a good way to make the most of the rookie’s skill set, starting immediately.

“I didn’t think he got going enough downhill [Friday],” said Kevin Young, the Sixers’ assistant who’s coaching the team in Vegas. “That’s where he’s probably going to be the best for us offensively.”

So, during Saturday’s shootaround at the University of Nevada - Las Vegas, Young said he and his staff made a point of emphasis to work on concepts that highlight Smith’s strengths.

“The times he was able to get to the rim, it was off DHOs and that type of thing, which we feature quite a bit in our offense,” Young said. “We got away from it a little bit last night, so we’ll try to bring that back.”

For Smith, Friday gave him his first taste of hoops at the professional level. And even in a setting like summer league, the Garland, TX native could feel the difference - in athleticism, physicality, and, most of all, speed.

Smith also said himself that coming off ball screens, utilizing DHOs, and simply being on the wing in general Friday represented something new.

How does he plan to adjust?

“IQ, staying the corner, not shifting and just being in space, and letting the game come to me,” Smith said, which he felt he did against Boston.

Don’t be surprised if the Sixers situate Smith in a few different defensive spots, too. It was on that end of the floor in college that the 19-year old left a major mark.

Said Young, “Defensively, I would like to try to move him around a little bit and see him guard some point guards, see how he looks in that environment as well.”

With one game in the books, the Sixers and Smith will likely have plenty of chances to experiment before summer league wraps up.

“You can see his raw ability,” Young said. “There’s clearly a lot he has to offer. Now it’s just a matter of fine tuning it for him.”